Newspaper Archive of
N. Warren Town and County News
Norwalk, Iowa
January 7, 2010     N. Warren Town and County News
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January 7, 2010

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OFFICIAL NEWSPAPER FOR \\; , / AND NORWALK COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT Warren dJ Jl Town and County ws 50 m Vol. 41 No. 33 Norwalk, Iowa 50211 USPS No. 395-120 Phone 981-0406 Thursday, January 7, 2010 By Sally Huntoon A number of area resi- dents have expressed that they would like to greet and congratulate Melvin Johnson, well-known UPS route man for the Norwalk area who is retiring after almost 34 years working with the company. Thurs- day, Dec. 24, was his last day of making deliveries after spending 32 years on the route. At 64 3/4 years, Johnson is the oldest em- ployee to retire from both the district and national package-car ranks. Phyllis Desenberg, who recently retired from City State Bank, is making ar- rangements for Johnson to be at the b'artk Friday, Jan. 8, and Friday, Feb. 5, dur- ing the morning coffee hour. Area residents may also greet and congratu- late Johnson during a re- tirement party Monday, Jan. 11, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Roadside Inn in Martensdale. Johnson was born in Mississippi and came to Iowa when he was 13 years old. The family settled in Waterloo, where he par- ticipated in basketball and track and field at E/st Wa- terloo High School. In 1975, Johnson began working at the UPS in Wa- terloo during the "peak season" which began in September and went through the busy holiday delivery period. He came to the Des Moines UPS in 1976 and made deliveries for two years in the Drake University area, which was bordered by 2nd Av- enue, 30th, Hickman and the freeway. He was then given the Norwalk route which took in 42nd Street (now McKinley), Walnut Woods to Maffett Lake down by the now Howell Tree Farm, on to Patterson along Hwy 92, Martensdale and then south to St. Marys. At one time, the route also in- cluded the rural areas around Southwest 9th and Fleur Drive. About ten years ago, as the Lake- wood neighborhood and Norwalk proper grew and became more populated, Meet Melvin JohnsonYour UPS Man dropped from his route. Johnson noted that when he first started the Norwalk deliveries, every- thing outside of town was just labeled rural route. He said he owes a big thank you to postal workers who helped him figure out where to find all the vari- ous families who shared the last names of King, Graham, Dooley, Hanrahan, etc. Among the mail carriers who assisted Johnson were Bob and Janice King, Doris Roote, Louise Ellis, Bud Seymour, Marty Weaver and Donald Hill. A daily stop count for Johnson averaged 115 to 140, with an average pack- age count of 194. Miles averaged between 150 and 170 per day. Johnson's busy route always kept him on the move; he al- lowed himself one minute from truck to customer and back to truck in order to complete all of the day's route. Although Johnson has enjoyed the job, he noted it could be stressful. Begin- ning in January of 2009 through Dec. 24, he carried a record volume of above 300 pieces every day. From Thanksgiving to Dec. 24, he carried close to 400 pieces with over 200 stops. Those whohad the privilege of having Johnson make deliveries to either their homes or busi- nesses always found the man with a cheerful smile and positive attitude. Johnson attributes that positive attitude to his faith in God. "I try to learn from every experience," Johnson said, noting that in teaching our children how to be good productive citizens, we must be good examples. Johnson has also "spoiled" area residents. Through the years, he has learned about his regular customers - not only rec- ognizing faces and know- ing where they live to make the delivery, but has learned where those in town work and even what type of car they drive. For instance, he would come the C umm'.mKarea, was ..... to the newspaper office to deliver packages for my children when they weren't home. He knew when one employee was working because he knew her vehicle. He dropped the package here, rather than take it to her home knowing no one was there to sign. He even recog- nized vehicles of people who were just dropping news items by the office. He saw their vehicle and made the delivery in the parking lot - again know- ing they would not be home to sign for the deliv- ery. We will miss that "per- sonal touch." Someone once noted they always saw Johnson smiling and asked him if he ever had a bad day. He did have those days some- times, but he said he al- ways made a choice to make it better - thus no one ever saw him in a "bad mood." He knew the smile that greeted someone when they came to the door may be the only smile they saw that day - per- haps that week. In addition to meeting people, one of the joys of Johnson's job was the won- ders of nature. "There were times I wished I had a camera with me," he said. Once in the twilight of a winter evening while making a delivery in the St. Marys area, he saw a pair of white coyotes. That male and female against the white snow was just incredible. Another time, shortly after turkeys were intro- duced into the area, Johnson said he saw a field that was full of turkeys, but they got spooked and he almost found himself with two wild turkeys fly- ing and bouncing into the windshield of his UPS truck. Once a pair of eagles were seen in a marsh area around the Pat Wiedman place. Johnson stopped into the newspaper office that day and told us what he had just seen. He was excited and wished he had a camera with him. I sent a reporter out, but by the time we got someone there, the great birds had. moved out of good range for our little camera. Johnson noted that about a week before his last de- livery, he saw the pair again over in the Echo Val- ley area. He chuckles when he tells about a very large owl, that was sitting on a log right beside the road one day. "He didn't move other fhan turning his head to watch me go b3" Johnson said. The winter just prior to the 1993 floods, when there had been so much snow that deer were hav- ing a hard time finding food, Johnson came around a bend and there on both sides of the road was a huge herd of deer. "They just stopped and watched me drive on by," he said. Johnson is grateful that as a "city youngster" he has been able to enjoy the countryside, the fields during the changing sea- sons, learning a little about farming and getting prod- ucts to market, and prais- ing God for His wondrous works. Johnson said his par- ents were good providers and taught him and his siblings that they could do or be anything they wanted to be. Johnson has found success through the solid foundation of family and faith and the knowl- edge of honesty, integrity and hard work. He may never know the joy that he has brought to area resi- dents while making his deliveries. His award-win- ning smile and the positive attitude will be missed by many of us who did not know "Melvin the Man" - but Only knew him as our faithful delivery route man. Melvin the man will continue working in his church, will continue sing- ing in the choir at Corinthian Baptist Church, will work with children teaching them the importance of reading and education, and will con- tinue reading as may self- help and self-improve- ment books as he can. Melvin the man will enjoy his two sons, grieve the daughter he lost five years ago, will enjoy fishing, bowling, golfing, cooking and going to movies with his wife. And, Melvin the man will continue his wonderful conversations with his mother - his good friend. SCHOOL UPDATES By Kate Baldwin Business Manager Norwalk Community School District 10% State Aid Cut and the Potential Imp'act on Local Property Taies We do not need to remind you of the difficult eco- nomic times we are all currently experiencing. From the national level on down to local communities, the downturn in the economy has had massive effects on businesses, communities, and families. The Norwalk School District is not immune to these negative forces. During the past several weeks the Board of Directors and District administration have been reviewing the current school year budget as well as.proj revenues and expenditures for the 2010-20[1 'and the 2011-2012 school years. Although future revenue growth does look bleak, conservative fiscal budgeting in previous years has provided the Norwalk School District with a fund balance reserve to help soften the impact of these nega- tive forces. During budgetary crisis times like this, all govern- ment entities are required to review their goals and op- erational priorities. At Norwalk Schools, student achievement is "job one." The Board of Directors has set clear goals that budget cuts that will adversely af- fect student achievement results are off the table. The District has made significant progress toward reaching targeted student achievement goals during the past few years. This success of our students can be attributed to several factors, starting with the quality teaching tech- r niques students experience in the classroom coupled with the state-of-the-art technology and curriculum the Norwalk District has been able to purchase. As we re- view the budget, these educational resources will be considered a high priority, causing other expenditures to be reduced first if reductions become necessary. Back in early November, the District released a spe- cial edition of the school newsletter that provided bud- get information and explained how the Governor's "10% across-the-board cut" specifically impacted our school district to the tune of $1,062,525. This budget cut repre- sents a real loss of revenues this year. The District has only two options available to respond to this cut: 1. Make an equal cut in expenditures, or 2. Use fund bal- ance reserves (cash savings) to replace the lost revenues. Even though this state aid cut came early in the school year, it would be next to impossible to reduce expendi- tures by nearly $1 million during mid-year due to the nature of the school year operations. During the past several years, the Norwalk School Board has budgeted to create a cash reserve to rely on in case of a state aid cut or other negative cash flow types of situations. The District will be opting to use cash reserves to cover ex- penditures that would have otherwise been paid with state aid. This is all best practice to protect the integrity of the educational program for students. Mid-year cuts will adversely impact the general operations of the school district and it is difficult to totally insulate the classroom from these effects. A question might be: How will the District replace ,"v; the $1 million of cash reserves used to replace the state .............. Concluded p. 11